Greek Name: Βουδῖνοι

Latin Name: Budini


Cultural Notes From Herodotos

Populous, indigenous tribe with grey eyes and bright red hair. They are nomadic and eat fir-cones (see note on Asheri commentary). Their City, called Gelonus, is built of wood, with walls that are three adn three quarters miles long. They have Greek temples and honor Dionysus every two years with festivals. They share their city with the Gelonians, but do not speak the same language and have a distinct way of life. Greeks wrongfully refer to them as Geloni.

Geographical Notes

Beyond the Sauromatae, fifteen days journey north of the Tanaïs river, in a land covered in thick forest. North of the Budini is uninhabited land for seven days journey, beyond which live the Thyssagetae.

Citations in Herodotos

4.21 geographical information; 4.22 land north of Budini; 4.102 called to  meeting with Scythians; 4.105 Neuri leave their country to live among the Budini; 4.108 wooden city and Greek temples; 4.109 indigenous nomads; 4.119 Promise to help Scythians in campaign against Persians; 4.120 Drawing off Persian armies; 4.122 Persian pursuit of Scythians into Budini land; 4.123 Burning of abandoned Gelonus; 4.136 Pursuit of Persians toward the Ister.

Key Passages in English Translation

[4.108] The Budini are a great and populous nation; the eyes of them all are very bright, and they are ruddy. They have a city built of wood, called Gelonus. The wall of it is three and three quarters miles in length on each side of the city; this wall is high and all of wood; and their houses are wooden, and their temples; [2] for there are temples of Greek gods among them, furnished in Greek style with images and altars and shrines of wood; and they honor Dionysus every two years with festivals and revelry. For the Geloni are by their origin Greeks, who left their trading ports to settle among the Budini; and they speak a language half Greek and half Scythian. But the Budini do not speak the same language as the Geloni, nor is their manner of life the same.

[4.109] The Budini are indigenous; they are nomads, and the only people in these parts that eat fir-cones; the Geloni are farmers, eating grain and cultivating gardens; they are altogether unlike the Budini in form and in coloring. Yet the Greeks call the Budini too Geloni; but this is wrong. [2] Their whole country is thickly wooded with every kind of tree; in the depth of the forest there is a great, wide lake and a marsh surrounded by reeds; otter is trapped in it, and beaver, besides certain square-faced creatures whose skins are used to trim mantles, and their testicles are used by the people to heal sicknesses of the womb.

English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920. Retreived from <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu>

Key Passages in Greek

[4.108] Βουδῖνοι δὲ ἔθνος ἐὸν μέγα καὶ πολλὸν γλαυκόν τε πᾶν ἰσχυρῶς ἐστι καὶ πυρρόν: πόλις δὲ ἐν αὐτοῖσι πεπόλισται ξυλίνη, οὔνομα δὲ τῇ πόλι ἐστὶ Γελωνός. τοῦ δὲ τείχεος μέγαθος κῶλον ἕκαστον τριήκοντα σταδίων ἐστί, ὑψηλὸν δὲ καὶ πᾶν ξύλινον, καὶ αἱ οἰκίαι αὐτῶν ξύλιναι καὶ τὰ ἱρά. [2] ἔστι γὰρ δὴ αὐτόθι Ἑλληνικῶν θεῶν ἱρὰ Ἑλληνικῶς κατεσκευασμένα ἀγάλμασί τε καὶ βωμοῖσι καὶ νηοῖσι ξυλίνοισι, καὶ τῷ Διονύσῳ τριετηρίδας ἀνάγουσι καὶ βακχεύουσι. εἰσὶ γὰρ οἱ Γελωνοὶ τὸ ἀρχαῖον Ἕλληνες, ἐκ τῶν δὲ ἐμπορίων ἐξαναστάντες οἴκησαν ἐν τοῖσι Βουδίνοισι: καὶ γλώσσῃ τὰ μὲν Σκυθικῇ, τὰ δὲ Ἑλληνικῇ χρέωνται.

[4.109] Βουδῖνοι δὲ οὐ τῇ αὐτῇ γλώσσῃ χρέωνται καὶ Γελωνοί, οὐδὲ δίαιτα ἡ αὐτή. οἱ μὲν γὰρ Βουδῖνοι ἐόντες αὐτόχθονες νομάδες τε εἰσὶ καὶ φθειροτραγέουσι μοῦνοι τῶν ταύτῃ, Γελωνοὶ δὲ γῆς τε ἐργάται καὶ σιτοφάγοι καὶ κήπους ἐκτημένοι, οὐδὲν τὴν ἰδέην ὅμοιοι οὐδὲ τὸ χρῶμα. ὑπὸ μέντοι Ἑλλήνων καλέονται καὶ οἱ Βουδῖνοι Γελωνοί, οὐκ ὀρθῶς καλεόμενοι. [2] ἡ δὲ χώρη σφέων πᾶσα ἐστὶ δασέα ἴδῃσι παντοίῃσι: ἐν δὲ τῇ ἴδῃ τῇ πλείστῃ ἐστὶ λίμνη μεγάλη τε καὶ πολλὴ καὶ ἕλος καὶ κάλαμος περὶ αὐτήν. ἐν δὲ ταύτῃ ἐνύδριες ἁλίσκονται καὶ κάστορες καὶ ἄλλα θηρία τετραγωνοπρόσωπα, τῶν τὰ δέρματα παρὰ τὰς σισύρνας παραρράπτεται, καὶ οἱ ὄρχιες αὐτοῖσι εἰσὶ χρήσιμοι ἐς ὑστερέων ἄκεσιν.

Other Testimonia

Pliny the Elder, The Natural History (ed. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A.): Book 4, Chapter 26

Other Commentary

David Asheri, Alan Lloyd, Aldo Corcella, A Commentary on Herodotus Books I-IV (2007). 657: Defines φθειροτραγέουσι in 4.109 above as 'lice eater' rather than 'fir-cone' eater: "underlining the primitiveness of the Boudini in contrast to the customs of the Geloni".

Βουδῖνοι: the Boudini are nomads who inhabit a wooded area together with the Geloni, who are farmers of Greek origin; in this area is the fort of Gelonus, built of wood, which Darius reached and destroyed. The Location of the Geloni-Boudini is very controversial: cf. Narody, pp 352ff.; Nejchardt, pp. 120-31; Stepi, pp. 47-8. Some scholars would place them in the Causasus, positing a confusion on the part of Herodotus. But according to the indications given in ch.21 thye must be sought to the north of the Sauromatae: a likely location seems to be the middle course of the Don, in the region of Voronez and the VOlga, wehre early contacts with the Greeks are attested. 

Perseus Encyclopedia: Budini, a people adjacent to Scythia

W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotos: γλαυκόν κτλ. Probably ‘with blue eyes and red hair’; cf. Tac. Germ. c. 4 ‘caerulei oculi, rutilae comae’, though Stein takes it of the ‘red’ skin, with Hippocrates (de Aer. 20), who says πυρρὸν τὸ γένος τὸ Σκυθικὸν διὰ τὸ ψῦχος. Others explain that they painted themselves ‘blue’, like our British ancestors; cf. ‘picti Geloni’, Virg. Georg. ii. 115.

Some have seen in the Budini a Teutonic race, but the evidence is too inadequate for certainty. Müllenhoff (iii. 15, 102) makes them Finns, but their complexion does not agree with the dark hair and brown skin of that people.
πόλις . . . ξυλίνη. The town of Gelonus is one of the unsolved puzzles in H.; he seems to speak from good evidence, and the town lay on the north-east trade route (c. 21 n.). But it is difficult to believe in semi-barbarian Greeks so far from the sea.
Neumann (p. 91) compares the wooden walls of Saratov, still standing a hundred years ago; Bunbury (i. 195) thinks H.'s informants confused Greek and Slavonian systems of worship. Grote, too, thinks the Geloni may have been Slavs.
τριετηρίδας. The Bacchic festivals were triennial; cf. Ovid, Fasti, i. 393-4 ‘Festa corymbiferi . . . Bacchi Tertia quae solito tempore bruma refert’.
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Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898): Eth. BUDI´NI (Eth. Βουδῖνοι), a people of Sarmatia Asiatica, according to the division of the later ancient geographers, but within the limits of Europe, according to the modern division; of whom almost all we know is found in Herodotus. 

Barry Cunliffe, Prehistoric Europe: an Illustrated History, pp.389-90: Belsk is identified by some as the wood-ramparted town of Gelonus, with its mixed Graeco-Scythian and Scythian populations of Geloni and Budini mentioned briefly by Herodotus. But, although he probably had in mind one of these forest-steppe centres, we cannot with any certainty say which. 



Munson, Rosaria Vignolo. 2005. Black Doves Speak: Herodotus and the Languages of Barbarians. Harvard University Press. 24-25, 28,34,43.

Hudson F. The land of the Budini. A problem in ancient geography. CR 1924 : 158-162.

Bojtár, E. 1999. Foreword to the past: A cultural history of the Baltic people. Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press.

Bonfante, L. 2011. The Barbarians of Ancient Europe: Realities and Interactions. Cambridge University Press. 128.



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